Dirt jumping and clipless, some advice please

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  • Dirt jumping and clipless, some advice please
  • ‘ello all!

    Before the flaming begins, this isnt a generic discussion, and yes i’ve goggled the crap outta this question, i just want some more generic online advice please!

    I have always ridden clipless on mountain bike and i feel supremely comfortable on them, by comparison the thought of going hard and fast through technical terrain on flats scares the beejezus outta me! I however, learnt to bunny hop on flats (when i was still a delinquent) and dont do any ‘pulling up’ but scoop instead.

    now the question – i’ve recently moved to near a jump track and, coupled with a desire to learn to jump, have started practicing. I have also bought a dirt jump bike, for fun, because i can ๐Ÿ˜› Now, people seem to recommend learning jumping on flats – so you can bail, so you get proper technique, for rad tricks duuuddde ….

    buut, seeing as i am super happy on cleats, have just tried bunny hopping on flats (still can do it just fine!) and am scared of the bike leaving me mid air, do i make the switch? i’d need new shoes, n pedals ๐Ÿ™ oorrr, i could get something akin to the Mallets – although i dont understand how this is a good half-way house, all if does is offer a studier platform, which i havnt found to be a problem!

    (sorry for the hugge length, and thanks in advance! ๐Ÿ˜€ )

    Premier Icon wiggles

    You will die.

    Premier Icon nuke

    I’m also super happy on cleats but there is no way I’d want to do dirt jumping with spds. Get some decent shoes, pedals & shin protection and get out there…good luck ๐Ÿ˜€

    I ride clips on my hardtail and full sus. When I go to the dirt jumps I just ride what I normally ride. However, if I had a bike solely for dirt jumping then it would be flats.


    i ‘re-learnt’ flats after several years away – i can now switch between quite happily.

    try flats you might be pleasantly surprised.


    Yep, try some decent flats ๐Ÿ™‚

    I use nukeproof and hope pedals on my XC, AM/FR bikes and my jump bike aswell, feet stick to them like glue!


    1- You won’t need new shoes, any trainers will be fine.

    2- DMR V8s can be had for about ยฃ10 2nd hand.

    3- Things like Crank Bros mallets offer no-where near the grip of a flat pedal when not clipped in, riding not clipped in on a pedal like that is scary, you have no feel & no idea when your foot is going to slip off.

    4- Most dirt jumps are pretty smooth so there’s no need to worry about you feet getting blasted off the pedals.


    OP – same for me, the thought of riding flats (on anything that is technical, fast or jumpy) scares the c**p out of me. I ride DH on Mallets, and they are fine – when you need to bail, you bail. I’d run SPD’s again if I could find a flatter pedal then the current Shimano ones, in particular as you can really slacken off the cleat tension – making it easier to bail. Lots of DH racers ride clipped in as do a lot of 4X and BMX racers – seems to work OK for them.

    Final thought, I did try flats for a few weeks and ended up with more injuries, scrapes, near misses than clipped in – I can’t afford any kind of injury that would keep me off work, so clipped in it is.

    It is personal choice, no harm in trying both, not worth risking things if you don’t have to

    hmm, thank you all very much for the help so far! I’ve started jumping on my current bike in spds, and like Lucien, if i need to bail i can, be that whacking a foot down during a sketchy corner or full on otb into some of the welsh specialty – sharp pointy rocks. i suppose it’s practice ๐Ÿ˜†

    it seems the way forward is to grab a cheap set of v8’s (anyone have some going?) and give it a go, but no pressure to stick to them. (-as a fyi, i’ve found that with cleats i’m forced to commit, which means i’ve made the jumps i’ve done so far, but fear that the ease of bail with flats might make me bail unnecessarily!)


    I can ride either, but I don’t like jumping on flats. Because of the float, the bike feels kinda loose beneath me.
    But, 4x bmx racers do OK don’t they.
    I’d say give flats a go, but it comes down to whatever your comfortable with.
    And don’t worry about new shoes too much, most trainers work OK.


    The first time you nose bonk a landing and do a scorpion flip to face grind you’ll wish you had been on flats.

    As a side note, I think all BMX and 4x riders would prefer to ride flats. The fact is you lose so much pedal power that you can’t be competitive. Doesn’t matter when you’re not racing. And race tracks aren’t really comparable to ‘proper’ dirt jumps with their steep trannys and super booters.


    Twelve ninety nine online. Best pedals I’ve had. Maybe not the lightest but they’ve been used for 4 years without any greasing, fitted on 4 different bikes, taken some big knocks and been up and down real mountains.

    Van Halen

    Depends on your version of jumping.

    If you mean sculpted art with steep lips and decent gaps and height then flats.

    If its a regular bmx track then clips.

    I’m happy to ride my local jumps with clips. Mainly cos they are small and a bit shit. Of I went to penshurst in the quarry I’d want flats as the trails are well trails!


    If you’re confident with your technique on your current pedals then blast on. For me it’s flats, but since i’ve never rode clipless i can’t speak from personal experience. I’ve seen enough of mates jumping in them to put me off for life though. They seem to attract the dead sailor ๐Ÿ˜€

    Just start off easy and see how it goes. It’s a cheap fix if you fancy flats.


    But how will you do your tail whips? ๐Ÿ˜€


    Premier Icon JoeG

    All of the good dirt jumpers use these

    Premier Icon kayak23

    So how are you going to do this clipped in?


    Whatever works best for you. Jumping is 90% confidence. However I feel flats give me more confidence than SPD’s. I have more flexibility to position my feet where I want, and footwork is very important.

    If you really examine what your feet do in the air you will more than likely see your toes point steeply downwards as you grip the bike when leaving the ground and perhaps to land. For this reason it makes sense to move your feet forward slightly of normal riding position so they are central at this critical point when grip is decreased. This helps to prevent slipping off the pedals. You can’t do this with SPD’s easily

    I learnt this from Mr Jedi and I’m pretty convinced he knows what he is talking about.


    why don’t you try one out, if it doesn’t work change it??


    Dirt jumping clipped in makes no sense really, I wonder if maybe some of you are getting your terms/disciplines mixed up..

    Ah yes, thanks yunki, i might be ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    Firstly- thanks to all who have responded!

    my definition was/is doing jumps – be they tabletops, doubles or your wonderfully sculpted dirt. At this point i’m not interested in doing ‘dirt-jumping’ (i think i’ve got this right – involving lots of moving off the bike in the air coolness) as i’d rather be out on a ride. The main point of practicing on a dirt jump bike specifically is a. because spending lots of time at the track it’s a lot more fun and b. i can crash without fear of the bike. Obv, getting comfortable on my bike jumping is crucial, but i thought time spent practicing at a specific jump place will help hugely with confidence/technique for hitting natural/more sketchy stuff on a normal ride ๐Ÿ™‚

    now that is cleared up, i reckon the way forward is to try someones flats – but probably stick to clipless!

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